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once suffered for sins being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. 1 Pet. 3:18. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches. Rev. 2:7. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. Rev. 22:17."
Such is the language of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Spirit. I have quoted only some of the most definite passages which may be justly regarded as being appropriate to the subject; many more might be added: indeed, no person will be fully aware of the frequency and precision with which the inspired writers speak of the Holy Spirit, unless he shall have made the attempt to bring together in one view all that is said concerning Him. But let us now see to what distinct conclusions respecting the CHARACTER of the Holy Spirit, we shall be led by this ample testimony.
1. The testimony of the Bible concerning the Spirit is sufficient to convince every candid mind that He possesses real existence. Real existence is opposed to imaginary being-ideal representation--the creations of fancy. That the Holy Spirit is, that he possesses the attribute of substantial, essential being—that in regard of existence he is what he is represented to be, must be understood and believed by every one who receives, as divinely true, the word of God: must be felt by every one who cordially believes divine testimony. Poets have described the Graces, the Virtues, the Arts and Sciences, have endowed them with the attributes of existence, and clothed them with the honors of divinity, and then have sung the praises of these fancied gods in elevated and rapturous verse; but the Holy Ghost is-His being as no poetic creation. Priests, themselves involved in heathenish darkness, and practising on the ignorant and superstitious credulity of the besotted multitude, have invented many gods—the names of dead men, or the ideas of unreal beings, good or evil; have enshrined their inventions with gold or silver, or wood, or stone, and have proclaimed these “which be no gods” as the objects of their worship to the deluded nations: but the Holy Ghost is, His existence is no invention of priestcraft. Philosophizing heretics of the primitive Church gave the name of existence and the characters of agency to properties and principles and secondary causes, real or imaginary, in the heavens or in the air; by their systems of philosophical Christianity, they not only degraded the morality and perverted the doctrine of Christianity-undeifying the Son, discarding the Spirit, and dethroning in effect the Eternal Father-but they offered to the faith of their disciples an unreal God, and fictitious principles and powers as Aeons in which they might hope for salvation: but the Holy Ghost is, and his existence lies at the basis of our hope of eternal life. Who that has attentively read and considered our limited quotations from the Book of God, can entertain a doubt? It is true that the proposition-the Holy Ghost is, has real existence is no where directly affirmed, nor is an argument proposed and urged, in order to prove the truth. But neither is the existence of God directly affirmed, nor is a formal method of proving his existence at all instituted in the Bible; many of those great truths of religion which are called fundamental are merely assumed, or implied, or referred to as indubitable truths. So in this case; all that is said respecting the Holy Ghost takes for granted, and necessarily implies real being. On what other principle can we attach any meaning to these declarations:-" The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.--The Spirit spake
the Spirit descended”? But I forbear; it may be thought that more than is necessary has been said respecting a self-evident truth; yet I fear that much of the unbelief and error that exist in the Church, and much of the declension of which we complain, may be partly owing to the defect of right perceptions and impressions of this truth. Let us believe and feel the power of the truth, there is a Holy Ghost.
2. The testimony of the Bible amply proves the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit. This means that he has distinct existence and attributes of being, in himself, in relation to all other beings. It does not mean, however, that he is distinct, divided, separate from God; for the word, person, or personality, is used in this case in a limited and restrained sense. Nothing is farther from our intention than to affirm that God the Father is one being, the Son another being, and the Spirit a third being. It is only meant-when we say that the Spirit is a distinct person, that he possesses proper personality that he is in such a sense a person, that he is, perceives, determines, wills, acts is addressed directly, and is spoken of-all with real propriety. It is not human, created personality that we ascribe to him; and we use such language not to explain the mode of his existence; but simply to affirm the truth that is revealed concerning his character, in opposition to those errors which either deny his existence, or degrade his nature. In this sense, then, it is affirmed that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, is a distinct person, having in himself existence and all the attributes of existence and action. How he thus exists cannot be told. But of this truth we have the full proof before us.
Thus, in these and similar places, the Spirit is represented by the personal words I, and He. “ The Holy Ghost said, separate me Saul and Barnabas."__"The Spirit of Truth He shall testify of me.” Now the theory which is advanced in opposition to the personality of the Holy Ghost supposes that by the names Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, Comforter, Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Truth, we are to understand an attribute or an operation of God. But will any figure of speech justify the use of such language as this—an attribute or an operation of God said, “ separate me Saul and Barnabas,"—or, “ shall testify of me"? Will such exposition of the Scriptures render them “ profitable for doctrine” to plain unlettered men? Truly if the Bible is to be interpreted in this manner, it must have been written for “ the learned,” and the Romanists do not greatly err when they take it away from the common people.
Personal properties are ascribed to the Holy Ghost. He possesses “mind," *“ wisdom,” “ will," "power," "* holiness," " goodness," “ truth.” He performs personal acts. He “speaks,” “works," “ determines,” “gives," “moves," "makes," "divides,” “ descends," “ testifies”—all as having mind, will, power as his own. In a word, personal relations and affections are affirmed concerning this Great Agent in the salvation of inen. He is “sent by the Father," " by the Son," "proceedeth from the Father," "is pres. ent,” or “is taken away." He is “blasphemed," “grieved," “ quenched,” treated with “despite."
Men do not use such terms and phrases concerning the properties and operations of any created visible being, a fellow man for instance; they would then be deemed unintelligible and absurd: shall we yet suppose that prophets and apostles have thus spoken concerning the infinite attributes, or the glorious operations of the uncreated Supreme God? Do they sometimes speak plainly, yet most sublimely, of the perfections and dispensations of Jehovah, in creation and providence; and at other times, and especially with regard to redemption, involve their doctrine in obscure, distorted, unnatural figure“ strange speech that is hard to be understood”? I cannot so believe. But this imputation must be made against the writers of the Scriptures, and we must deny the plain declarations of the word of God; or we must admit fully, and, without wavering, believe the distinct personality of the Holy Ghost.
3. The testimony of the Bible fully establishes the doctrine that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, is verily God. That the Holy Spirit is God, has always been the belief of the Church of Christ since the days of the apostles; and this doctrine has been justly accounted fundamental. If indeed we admit his real existence and distinct personality, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that we admit his supreme divinity, The belief that there is such a being, and that he is a creature, could find no support " in reason or in Scripture.” There is, however, direct evidence, that is worthy of the most minute and careful attention; a very brief view of this evidence must suffice in this place.
The Spirit is called by the name of God. In the Old Testament, the different words of the descriptive names, " the Spirit of the Lord God,” or “the Spirit of God," are so placed as to warrant the inference that the name God, is applicable to the Spirit as well as to the Father. " The Holy Ghost spake by Esaias the prophet;" but the “ Lord, (Jehovah) said to the prophet, Go and tell this people.” Ananias had lied “unto the Holy Ghost,” but it was to God,” that he had lied. “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" but Isaiah, from whom the interrogation is quoted, asks, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord?” And we may add the affirmation of the apostle Paul, “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” 2 Cor. 8:17. This is direct evidence that the Spirit is God. When we read that he is the “Eternal Spirit,” that we “ cannot go from the Spirit,” that“ the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God," that "mighty signs and wonders” were wrought by the “ Holy Ghost," that he is the “ Holy Spirit,” and the “good Špirit," and the Spirit of grace," and the “Spirit of truth,” we are distinctly informed that all the perfections of Jehovah dwell in him. And, further, when it is affirmed that he “made” a man, “garnished the heavens," " wrought signs and wonders," " moved the holy men of God to speak," " quickeneth" the souls of men, shall “quicken their dead bodies," and “ raised up Christ from the dead;" we are sure that the peculiar works of God were performed by him. Finally, the union of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son in the baptismal commission, and in the apostolic benediction, affords full proof that he is verily of the one Godhead. We have, therefore, in the scriptural exhibition of the character of the “ Comforter,” full and convincing evidence that he is a real, distinct person in the one God.
II. Having ascertained the character of the Holy Spirit, we next examine the testimony of the Scripture respecting his OPERATions as the Comforter and Spirit of Truth. It is perfectly obvious that to the Spirit a peculiar divine office is ascribed in the economy of redemption, and that he has an agency of essential importance in executing the purposes of God which are embraced in this economy. What is this agency-how does he perform itmo
what are its results? These are important inquiries, and “ to the law and to the testimony,” let us apply for the answer.
The passages already cited afford much information on this topic; but there are many others that relate to it still more directly, and exhibit in clearer light the doctrine of the Holy Spirit's influence. Some of these shall now be placed together, without intervening remarks, that they may act with collected light on the eyes of the understanding. * The Lord said, my Spirit shall not always strive with man. Gen. 6:3. Uphold me with thy free Spirit. Ps. 51:12. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. Ezek. 36:27. Except a man be born....of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5. It is the Spirit that quickeneth. John 6:63. The Spirit of Truth.... dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17. The Comforter shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26. He will reprove (convince) the world of sin, of righteousness....he will guide you into all truth. John 16:8, 13. The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto you. Rom. 5:5. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.. The Spirit helpeth our infirmities...maketh intercession for the saints. Rom. 8: 14, 16, 26, 27. Ye are sanctified....by the Spirit of our God. I Cor. 6:11. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Eph. 4:30. The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. Eph. 5:9. He saved us by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Tit. 3:5. God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” 2 Thess. 2:13. Full and explicit is the doctrine of the Scriptures respecting the agency, as well as the character of the Holy Spirit. And a careful inspection of these and other passages of the same import, will shew that this agency is DISTINCT, NECESSARY, GRACIOUS, SANCTIFYING, DIVINELY POWERFUL.
1. To the Holy Spirit is assigned a distinct agency in the salvation of men. As certainly as the Scriptures teach the doctrine of the Trinity--that in the one God there are three persons-or, which is the same truth, that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; so do they teach, also, that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit act distinctly with reference to the salvation of sinners. The Eternal Father is the great First Cause, as he, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved